DR Congo’s TP Mazembe are seeking to become Africa’s joint second most-successful football club in the CAF Champions League ahead of their 2015 final against USM Alger in Algiers on Saturday.The Congolese champions for seven of the past nine seasons have won the continental title four times before, most recently in 2009 and 2010.A win over their Algerian opponents would move them level with Egyptian club Zamalek, who have won the title five times before.Only Al-Ahly has won more titles, with a record eight Champions League titles to their name.USM Alger is currently top of the Algerian League 1 table with 22 points from 9 games, six points clear of their closest challengers.The first leg of the final takes place at the Stade Omar Hamadi in Algiers, with the return scheduled for 8th November at Stade TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi.
Ahead of the Satellites’ planned appearance at the 2013 WYC in Turkey, Goal remembers Ghana’s dazzling keeper who led the U20s to a runners-up finish in 2001 at Argentina.The last decade has seen quite a few brilliant goalkeepers feature for the Black Stars, notably the likes of Richard Kingson, Sammy Adjei and George Owu; for good measure, you could throw current [alternating] regulars Fatau Dauda and Adam Kwarasey into the mix as well.Somehow, though, those privileged to have lived through a slightly earlier era would be inclined to believe the most outstanding of the lot never got to tend goal for Ghana, and probably never would. And, almost certainly – for those of that particular school of thought – the individual they might have in mind would be a certain Maxwell Owusu Banahene.By the age of 18, Banahene was already something of a legend for Ghana at youth level football, rising quickly to become one of the country’s most promising prospects at the time. As first-choice goalkeeper and team captain, he had guided the Black Starlets to silver and bronze at the U17 African Cup and World Cup respectively in 1999.Two years later, Banahene, again in the capacity of an undisputed No.1 and skipper, would lead the Black Satellites to a runners-up finish in Argentina, conceding just twice along the way, prior to being humbled 3-0 by the Javier Saviola-inspired hosts.Owu – who would later play a part in sealing Ghana’s maiden successful Fifa World Cup appearance – deputised for Banahene at the tournament, while the likes of Petr Cech (now a bona fide Chelsea and Czech Republic great), Maarten Stekelenburg (a World Cup finalist with the Netherlands in 2010) and Wilfredo Cabellero (Malaga’s Argentine goalkeeper who performed so brilliantly in this season’s Champions League) all debuted at that tournament yet were bested by the splendid Banahene. At club level – with Sekondi Hasaacas and later Liberty Professionals – he was doing just fine. This clearly was a young man who truly had the world at his feet.Not for long, though.LOSTIn 2002, Banahene’s fine progress was obstructed in the worst possible way when he suffered a career-threatening knee injury that robbed him of his present and much of his future as it appeared then.A few years later, Banahene could only watch as the Stars qualified to and appeared at the World Cup, with the contributions of goalkeepers who -good as they were – wouldn’t have considered themselves fit to tie the laces of Banahene in his pomp, as well as a good number of the players that featured alongside him at junior level. From that blessed Satellites batch alone, as many as eight played at Germany 2006 namely, Michael Essien, John Mensah, John Paintsil, Sulley Muntari, Derek Boateng, Emmanuel Addoquaye Pappoe, Razak Pimpong, and Owu. Quite tellingly, among the octet mentioned are all four players who shielded Banahene throughout the 2001 World Youth Championships in that spectacular unit constructed by coach E.K Afranie.While his colleagues have continued to shine at the highest level for Ghana, Banahene desperately sought to resolve his health issues and – quite disappointingly – for a while, he was obliged to sort them out by himself. No one else seemed too interested. Liberty, where he played as of the time misfortune struck, failed to help satisfactorily, as did the Ghana Football Association. On his own, there was only so much the young man could do.Unable to bear the considerable cost of treatment alone, Banahene had to abandon his mission of recovery and rehabilitation, for which purpose he had journeyed to England. At that point, all hope looked lost for a career which seemed set for a premature crash, having barely taken off.REDEEMEDFrom nowhere, a ‘saviour’ – one that Banahene perhaps least expected a supportive arm from – intervened. Paintsil had excelled alongside Banahene at Argentina 2001 and perhaps had greater consciousness of his former peer’s potential and plight than most. Paintsil had just secured for himself a move to England’s Fulham and saw in his own progress a fine opportunity to help a brother in misery. Banahene was invited to The Cottagers’ training complex in London where he benefitted from the club’s advanced expertise and facilities in sports medicine and physiotherapy, all at the expense of his colleague-turned-benefactor.Gradually, the former goalkeeping prodigy was nursed back to optimum form and fitness and subsequently staged a comeback at 26, an age at which he should have been reaching his peak instead. Improved as his reputation from the past was, however, Banahene never lacked suitors when he felt good enough to re-launch his career. A number of lower-tier English clubs (with whom he trained while recuperating) expressed some interest but Banahene ultimately signed for Ghanaian side Berekum Chelsea, featuring for a while in the Ghana Premier League.LOST AGAINSo scanty is information available on the player that, try as this writer did, finding reliable news on Banahene’s present bearings seemed almost impossible. For a man who has been out of public consciousness for a while, that is hardly surprising, lamentable as it is. Apparently, though, he is on Chelsea’s books no longer.Wherever Maxwell Owusu Banahene might find himself now, however, he certainly might wonder just what could have been had injury not curtailed his bright beginnings and rendered him what he would always remain to those whoever saw him play: the forgotten man of Ghanaian football.
• Heil also suggested a seven-second pitch clock; hitters entitled to one timeout (i.e., stepping out of the box) per at-bat; relievers getting from the bullpen to the mound in no more than 30 seconds to make the next pitch, with no warmups; one baseball per half-inning (rather than a new ball every time one hits the dirt); and an All-Star Week that would also encompass the trade deadline and maybe the draft, too.Time, it seems, is of the essence.• Tom Cryer, maybe with Shohei Ohtani in mind, suggested allowing a player to be listed as both a pitcher and DH, similar to the NCAA rule, or alternatively allowing a DH for any player, not just the pitcher. Further, he favors limiting extra innings to a three-inning limit and then going to a home run derby to break ties. He didn’t specify whether the losing team would get a pity point, as do overtime losers in hockey shootouts.• Tim Mellin of Highland Park suggested an “open” DH rule: Five or six DH slots available, to be used wherever the manager deemed appropriate, similar to the softball rule where the player who is pinch-hit for can return in the game.• Russ Allison is awaiting expansion to 32 teams and a universal DH, and is in favor of radical realignment based on geography: Imagine a West Division with the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Padres, A’s, D-Backs, Mariners and a Portland expansion team, for example. “Yes, maybe one step backwards (won’t feel ‘special’ to have LAA-LAD 4 times a year) but several steps forward,” he wrote. “And an attendance rocket straight up … total upside. LONG overdue.”• Vince Scipioni would bypass both the Commissioner’s office and Players Association: No more corporate ownership of teams; players’ base salary limited to $1 million a year (with advertisers making up the rest), maximum ticket prices at $25 and parking at $12, elimination of all cable/internet broadcast deals in favor of over-the-air telecasts, elimination of replay review, uniform changes only at 25-year intervals … well, you get the point. And so much for baseball’s version of capitalism.• Fred Singer of Huntington Beach wrote: “Have each team bat for three innings at a time. After three outs in the first inning, clear the bases and keep going, rinse and repeat. So much time is wasted getting players on and off the field 18 times a game.” Trust me, with all of the advertising dollars involved, there’s as much chance of that happening as of me becoming President.• Edward Lamoureaux, an Angel fan who is also a professor in the Department of Interactive Media and Department of Communication at Bradley University, has the same gripe I do with MLB.TV’s home market blackout policy, but a particular beef: “I do mind being blacked out of Angel games when they play in Chicago or St. Louis … when the Angels go to Chicago, I don’t want to be forced to go to a TV in my home with cable so I can watch the Sox or Cubs broadcast. Sometimes I’m not at home by a TV, often I’m not in a room with a TV, and I never want to listen to their calls.”Sounds fair.He also suggests altering the umpire rotation so umpires who are weak on balls and strikes don’t work the plate; making arguing balls and strikes no longer an automatic ejection, and not legislating shifts, writing: “Anyone who can’t bunt or hit the other way, and who isn’t hitting over .275, should be punished.”• Lamoureaux and Dirk Wilder of Trabuco Canyon take aim at hitters’ habit of messing with their batting gloves between pitches. “Velcro is responsible for slowing the game down,” Wilder wrote.Related Articles Actually, it’s all Nomar Garciaparra’s fault, but I get the point.• Lastly, Greg Johnstone of Ladera Ranch suggested that games could simply end in ties after four or five extra innings, and no gimmicks such as starting each extra inning with a runner at second. “Neither team wins when a game extends to 18 innings, and how many fans are left in the stadium at this point.”Those of us who witnessed Game 3 of last year’s World Series – with Dodger Stadium still nearly full in the 18th – might feel differently. Then again, the Angels exhausted their pitching staff in a 16-inning loss to Baltimore last month and went on to lose 12 of 14 and pretty much spiral out of the wild card race.At this point, they probably wouldn’t argue.ja[email protected]@Jim_Alexander on Twitter There seem to be some common threads in the responses to last week’s “Fixing Baseball, Part II” column:I received 20 emailed responses and a couple via Twitter. The majority were from, shall we say, veteran fans. There seemed to be common agreement that games take too long, and that analytics and their spawn (such as shifts, launch angles, homers and strikeouts at the expense of putting the ball in play, and the nightly parade of relief pitchers in the late innings) have made the game less appealing.Oh, and ticket prices are too high and the TV coverage leaves something to be desired. That about cover it?By the way, the idea that older fans seem most willing to care, and to comment, should be a loud wakeup call to MLB executives. It says either (a) the younger generation is perfectly fine with the game as it is played today, or (b) younger fans don’t care enough to weigh in. My suspicion is (b), and if that’s the case nicknames on the backs of uniforms aren’t nearly enough. (Especially when you can’t see them, as will be the case this weekend, but enough of that rant.) Photos: Lakers defeat Trail Blazers in Game 4 of first-round playoff series Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and other NBA stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Along those lines, the most intriguing suggestion came from reader Mark Heil: “Hire WWE writers. WWE understands that story lines drive interest. Baseball has become too much of a hometown sport. People don’t care the way we used to about other teams … What’s missing? The stories to make us care about the different cities. Matchups. Who is pitching against who? Add drama. Hire people to call up talk radio stations and ask the brainless homers if they saw what happened in Los Angeles last night? Root, Root, Root for the hometown – yes, but be realistic about how your team compares.”My only hesitancy would be that 162 games worth of “Monday Night Raw” would wear everyone out, players and fans alike. That said, this goes back to the sport’s inability to tap into personalities and promote its best players to a wider audience.And maybe the issue isn’t so much how they advertise, but where – specifically, maybe promoting the game to people who aren’t already watching it. Heil suggested slipping players or teams into video games or hosting “a contest on Minecraft about designing the best stadiums or replicating a stadium.”I’d hire him.Anyway, some other ideas: Horse dies after injury during workout at Del Mar On Mamba Night, the Lakers make short work of Blazers to take 3-1 series lead
The USWNT won the World Cup last summer, while the country’s men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Still, there remains a financial gap in earnings between squads that has been elevated in the public spotlight over the past year. The USWNT used its World Cup triumph as a platform to argue for rights it contends have not been fairly afforded.“The job of a [men’s national team player] carries more responsibility within US Soccer than the job of a [women’s national team] player,” wrote U.S. Soccer in its response to the lawsuit.At one point in the filing, U.S. Soccer painted the difference between men and women players as a matter inherent physical talent, writing among other things that men have superior lung capacity and muscle composition than women. In an attempt to drive home this point, U.S. Soccer referenced a study that says five-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Katie Ledecky could never be as valuable as prolific men’s swimmer Michael Phelps due to biological differences. “No matter how great the great Katie Ledecky gets,” U.S. Soccer wrote, “she will never beat Michael Phelps or his endurance counterparts in the pool.”A USWNT spokesperson on Tuesday wrote in a statement that U.S. Soccer’s filing was “just plain simple sexism” and “sounds as if it had been made by a caveman.”Latest statement from Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the #USWNT players just hit my email on last night’s filings. pic.twitter.com/lFU4zrQIG7— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) March 10, 2020The sides are expected to meet in federal court in May if they do not reach a settlement. The United States Soccer Federation argued in a Monday night court filing that the gender discrimination lawsuit lodged by the U.S. women’s national team does not have legal standing under the Equal Pay Act.In documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, U.S. Soccer alleged that because women players are less skilled than men in soccer and to not bear the same level of responsibilities, they should not be owed the $67 million in back pay they are suing to obtain or be given comparable facilities.